19th April 2016
Going off programme
Business travel programmes are being undermined due to travellers still booking through non-traditional channels, a recent study has found.
According to research from the GBTA and Concur, around half of European travellers who had access to a TMC or online booking tool used alternative channels such as going direct with a supplier or using an OTA site.
They cited pricing, ability to earn loyalty status and more convenience as the main reasons for booking out of policy.
The study said that when employees are required to follow mandated travel programmes they are more likely to use traditional channels, while those encouraged to follow guidelines are more likely to use alternative channels.
Mobile apps are one interloper, giving travellers the power to book travel in new ways. While they can be good for employees’ on-the-road productivity, it means travellers are also spending more time shopping for travel products and are vulnerable to being targeted directly by suppliers. Ultimately, they make it is easier for travellers to book out of policy.
It may not seem like a big deal but it causes serious problems, not least the loss of control and visibility over spend, an inability to hit preferred supplier targets, and a failure to meet traveller tracking and duty of care obligations.
If travellers are given the tools they desire then the likelihood of straying off policy is diminished. Instant communication is key. Travel managers should think about how to push out information to travellers’ mobiles at the point of need – for instance a policy reminder during the booking process.
Technology needs to be applied to make sure they remain within policy, giving the traveller no excuse to go outside the programme.